By Badru Walusansa
The prevalence of corruption in public institutions is worrisome. It comes with a lot of colossal effects to a country’s socio-economic and political development. Recently reports on corruption indicated that the public sector is more prone to corruption than the private sector. I think to justify that assertion is the fact that many people interface with public institutions in light of accessing services than it is the case with private institutions.
Apparently we cannot detach corruption from Uganda’s public sector because the vice has been normalised and is systematically inbuilt within the sector. Last week, the public was awash with three ugly corruption incidences in which all perpetrators were public servants.
For me I think as public servants are busy soliciting bribes, inflating costs and exercising influence peddling, there are people either within or outside the institutional framework with ample knowledge of such unscrupulous deals. However out of fear for victimisation or reprisal such people deliberately fail to come out on record to report.
Ugandans whether in or out of public service should know that it is their duty under the Article 17 (i) of the 1995 Constitution, to combat corruption and misuse or wastage of public property. In order to effectuate that duty, individuals particularly need to start whistle blowing corruption cases at high, middle and lower level to the powers that be.
In 2010, Parliament passed the Whistle blowers Protection Act with the view that it would provide for the procedures by which individuals in both the private and public sector may in the public interest disclose information that relates to irregular, illegal or corrupt practices and to provide for the protection against victimization of persons who make disclosures. Although the law is in place, it remains good on paper not in practice.
By implication, the Office of the ombudsman and like-minded stakeholders need to step up awareness strategies of the Whistle blowers Protection Act to the public. We should also encourage public to benchmark good practices of whistle blowing in order to appreciate the merit in it.
For example, journalists need training on how to investigate corruption in public institutions, like it was the case in Ghana where a journalist exposed through a documentary containing secret footage of 34 judges accepting bribes in exchange for passing lower sentences to litigants. We need to also recognize public institutions that have in place Whistle blowers policies, such as NSSF and URA; other institutions need more of the same.
The writer is a Commonwealth Correspondent